The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is working towards enhanced deployment and protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as it is set to forge agreements with more countries of destination.
Labor Secretary Silvestre ‘Bebot’ Bello III said a huge number of jobs is on the table and the DOLE will prioritize OFWs who lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic.
“In the meantime, we are creating more employment destinations for the overseas Filipino workers. That’s the reason why we are entering into an agreement with Canada, Russia, China and even Bangkok so that we will have bilateral agreements with them to provide work destination for OFWs,” Bello said in a news release on Sunday.
Bilateral Labor Agreements (BLAs) are formal agreements entered into by the Philippines with countries of destination to govern deployment, labor cooperation on the protection and promotion of rights and welfare of OFWs, and human resources development.
As OFW deployment is still limited due to travel restrictions in some countries, Bello advised Filipino workers to continue honing their skills while in the Philippines.
Bello said a total of 702,000 OFWs were repatriated and have been reunited with their families after undergoing the required quarantine protocols.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an attached agency of DOLE, leads in providing various assistance to OFWs.
“Meron ding program na tinatawag na Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong o AKAP. Kung hindi pa nakakauwi at nandun sila, [sa ibang bansa] walang trabaho dahil sa pandemya, binigyan namin sila ng tig-200 US dollars pero kung nakauwi na sila, binigyan namin sila ng equivalent na PHP10,000 (We also a program called AKAP. If they are still in other countries and no jobs due to pandemic, we gave them USD200 each but if they are here already, we gave them equivalent PHP10,000),” Bello said.
Children of OFWs are also receiving aid through scholarship grants under OFW Dependent Scholarship Program (ODSP), and educational assistance of PHP20,000 per school year to qualified dependents of an active member OFW whose salary is not more than USD600.
He said not only the active members are receiving aid from DOLE but also those who are not members.
“Generally dapat sa mga active members pero sa panahon ng pandemya kailangan intindihin mo ang kanilang kalagayan. Kahit paano yung ayuda na binibigay sa regular OFWs binibigyan din natin sila (Generally, only active members are qualified but in times of pandemic, we need to understand their situation. At least we give them assistance similar to what we give to regular OFWs),” Bello said.
Other DOLE programs for OFWs are OWWA’s Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay (BPBH), Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP) and Tulong Pangkabuhayan Para sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs (Tulong Puso). (PNA)